Alex Gimarc: Carbon capture 101 (Alaska style)

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By ALEX GIMARC

Gov. Mike Dunleavy made a proposal during his State of the State address to get Alaska into the carbon capture and sequestration business.  There are a pair of bills making their way through the House with companion legislation in the Senate to set this up in Alaska Statute.  HB 50 sets up geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2).  HB 49 establishes a carbon offset program for state lands and a market for carbon offset credits.  DNR made a presentation in support of the scheme to the House Resources Committee on Feb 10.  

Essentially, the scheme captures and stores CO2 either in depleted oil and natural gas reservoirs or in forests. Do this, and the feds give you free money, popular in these parts. Not so popular is when the feds change the rules somewhere down the line, not unlike what they’ve done since statehood, not unlike what any pusher does to an addict after he gets you hooked.

Reporting on this has been skeptical, waiting for details. One organization calling itself We are the people of Alaska stood up an anti CO2 capture website and have been banging away on Tom Anderson’s morning radio show for a week.  

As with any Next Big Thing, the devil as always is in the details, and as the details are (and will be) in flux, perhaps we ought to mention some big picture considerations.  

There is both good news and bad news associated with this proposal. The good news is that it is free money, that several Lower 48 oil producing states (TX, LA, ND, WY, WV) are positioning themselves to participate, and that a decent CO2 capture and sequestration program would position Alaska nicely for future gas to liquids (GTLs) and coal to liquids (CTLs) activities. Finally, the producers are fully supportive as for the most part, they already have most of the injection infrastructure in place.  

The bad news is that it is free money. Think of the pusher mentioned earlier. Additionally, it opens the door for remarkable graft and corruption like we have seen in the renewables / green energy world.  Sadly, twice elected Alaska congress critter Rep. Mary Peltola appears to be an early adopter, with her husband Gene incorporating to get a piece of the newly baked pie. Think of Paul Pelosi’s stock trades with insider information and you won’t be far off.  Additionally, most of us have figured out that the free stuff is the very most expensive stuff of all.  

One of the rightful criticisms of this is that it panders to ESG (Environmental, social and governance), a scheme that uses pressure from banks, lending institutions, wall street, investment houses to support investments that are properly woke.  Even Governor Dunleavy bragged about Alaska participating in ESG since before it was fashionable.  I think ESG’s high point was last year, with significant pushback nationwide. And this is before the states roll out any of the large caliber anti-trust guns on its practitioners.  Does the left want to inflict ESG? Absolutely. Will they try? Absolutely. Can they? Nope.

Both pieces of legislation in the House are complex, which worries me, as the more complex legislation is, the more difficult it is to determine what little nuggets of corruption are buried in it. As long as CO2 storage and sequestration do not shut down current or future resource development (think coal and logging), I think we ought to have that discussion.  Whether we adopt it or not is another thing entirely, so color me skeptical.  

I like that other leading energy producing states are participating. I do not like additional free money into Alaska, as it will be instantly spent. A return to defined benefit pensions for police and fire and more money for education are the current examples. I do not like that Gene Peltola is positioning himself to participate in the insider trading criminal enterprise known as the democrat party, as this is not going to end well for Alaska. He won’t be the only one, I expect.  

Still, this is a start. The more discussion, the louder that discussion is, the better. The governor and his staff need to be front and center answering questions, as trust me no longer works when dealing with a government, any government at any level.

Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.

29 COMMENTS

  1. This scheme is nothing more than a TAX. Carbon producers will incur an expense, which they will pass on to you and me, the consumer. And as the author pointed out, the rules will be written or changed so the only ones to benefit will be “elite”, or shall we say the democrat communists.

  2. “A return to defined benefit pensions for police and fire and more money for education are the current examples.”
    Got any other ideas to address the severe staffing shortages in DPS and DOC? The Officers who leave at 5 once vested and go to other states that have pensions? The 3rd, 4th, 5th days of OT leaving you only a day or two off every two weeks? I don’t like government spending, either, but we need to address this.

    As for carbon sequestration, as long as it doesn’t preclude smart resource extraction, I say go for it. It may even be used as a bargaining tool to allow more extraction. I think this, along with the tidal power potential of Cook Inlet, and other renewables are a good thing and don’t need to be at odds with our resource extraction.

    • Sure. Do what the military does when pilot shortages show up from time to time. Write a large caliber check and tie it to a fixed time of future service. You take the $$$, and you serve XXX additional years. Neither of which impact the outyear pension obligations. DoD and the feds have been doing this for 40 years. For the legislature not to be considering this approach tells me something else is afoot, something intentionally evil. But that’s just me. This stuff isn’t difficult unless you want it to be. Cheers –

      • That would work, if they didn’t already have that and it’s still not fixing it, even after doubling the amount a few years back.

        • As far as I know, they’ve only offered “signing bonuses.” That is very different from a payment offered for a future date. The reality is that even under Tier 1 PERS at five years you could take the money and run; I did. Cost a damned fortune to pay it back twenty years later when I’d come back to PERS service.

          • They are signing bonuses that are tied to a specified amount of time worked. If you don’t you pay it back. And people are still leaving droves

    • California just went from a 90 billion dollar surplus to a 25 billion dollar deficit in one year due to defined benefit pensions. Defined benefit pensions are tools of government budget destruction. If you want a sustainable government do not right blank checks.

  3. Native corporations in this state are making hundreds of millions of dollars selling carbon credits. We have over 129,000,000 forested acres in Alaska, most that will never be logged. If selling trees on land that will never be logged brings in revenue then great. Article 8 Section 2 states “The legislature shall provide for the utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging to the State, including land and waters, for the maximum benefit of its people.” If the maximum benefit is selling standing timber to people who do not understand that leaving old growth forests standing is not the best way to capture atmospheric carbon, then sobeit.

    As far as carbon sequestration goes, the technology isn’t here yet but setting up a framework for private industry to develop here in Alaska is what responsible government should do.

  4. Thank you, Alex. Good questions to drill down on.

    I like to think of it like this:

    Imagine the govt offering you a tax rebate for using your seat belt when seat belts were a new thing. Then fast-forward to after society starts using them at which point the government decides that a tax rebate isn’t needed anymore and is replaced by laws requiring you to wear seat belts.

    Now switch the example from seat belt use, which many people recognize as a good thing based on available safety data, to something that the government encourages but that much of the public does not necessarily recognize to be a good thing, like vaccinating 6-month-olds for COVID.

    Instead of allowing science and safety data to drive those individual decisions, the government has chosen, from the outset, the outcome it wants to achieve, before (or even in opposition to) the science and safety data, and certainly before individual decisions have become informed by that data.

    Once society has been retooled to accommodate and achieve this new government objective of carbon capture and reducing the amount of carbon emitted, should we really expect the government to adopt a laissez faire posture on how individuals make decisions (like whether they may possess a personally owned vehicle or take however many flights they like in a year), or is it just as likely, if not more so, that the government will follow up with a new law, like seat belts.

    Tyranny rarely, if ever, gives way to common sense. Tyranny is not, fundamentally, an absence of common sense, but a contempt for freedom, so the addition of common sense will not cure it.

    The drive is for greater control from the top. They are offering you a bribe to give it to them. But, for the love of God and country, why would you willingly do so?

    • I think the idea is to refill depleted CH4 reservoirs with CO2. We know the original conditions (pressures and temps) when they were first tapped. Return to those numbers, and it ought to work. The producers have been using natural gas from wells to lift oil from shallow reservoirs for years (think of really thick oil, shoe polish viscosity) – gaslift. Chugach / Enstar have a CH4 storage facility on the Kenai that they store CH4 for a while to cover shortages. It was a depleted reservoir. Think it went into operation a decade or so ago. It’s been a while so I don’t have current details. Chugach and Enstar will. Cheers –

    • Jeff,
      Those are lefty anti-fracking talking points that have been proven demonstrably wrong time and time again.

  5. Build at least phase one of the Susitna River Hydro Project….and harness the Susitna River resource. That would be the best way for Alaska to reduce our carbon footprint…

    • Not really. Only part of the Railbelt’s domestic energy usage is electricity. The rest is home heating and cooking with natural gas, and that is the larger portion. But this carbon sequestration and storage could be used as a leveraging tool to allow more natural gas development.

  6. Prove to me that the quantity of “captured carbon “?is different than what I told you it was…….
    It also guaranteed to keep pink elephants away.

  7. To even be an over willing enough participate and striving to be a head of the game by getting involved in the international scam of carbon credits by our state government is sickening enough. Remember compliance gives them power, without compliance they have no one playing their games.

    The people of Alaska will want to examine this carbon credit scam deal closely, and maybe even contact their Alaska legislators. The words “STRICT ENVIRONMENTAL COVENANTS” were being thrown around when talking of this subject.

    Collecting monies by leasing untold amounts of state land to unknown companies in the name of carbon credits, then putting those state lands, OUR state lands, into STRICT ENVIRONMENTAL COVENANTS. I would imagine with such a deal Our state lands would then fall under Federal jurisdiction or maybe even International jurisdiction of enforcement of those Unknowing STRICT ENVIRONMENTAL COVENANTS.

    The Giving away of what public Alaska state lands we the people of Alaska still hold, and I could only imagine what exact kind of Strict Environmental Covenants would be put into place. After all, It is the federal/international government, they are the same ones that have tried to claim all the waterways, and the not so much waterways.

  8. What will all the trees and plants breath when you’ve hidden it all from them.
    Might want to make sure there is no environmental repercussions doing such things, beings how everyone is playing god here.
    I see the government found a way to create 4 or more jobs out of this scam.
    Wooooo, what a relief, all us private land owners still retain our surface rights. (Sarcasm)

  9. This is nothing more than another scam on par with the crypto currency BS. The people paying all the bills get shafted while politicians and scammers get rich. The only carbon the governor should be concentrating on is gas, oil and coal while doing what he can to help private enterprise get these things to market. Participating in the federal government takeover of our lives under these ineffective climate change policies is participating in the demise of our freedoms.

  10. My favorite part of this article is the phrase “free money” federal money is never free it comes at a high price to the citizen with very thick strings attached the whole business incentive for thos program is the 45Q federal tax credit AKA tax payer federal dollars these ESG social credit score type of systems are not in harmony with the core fundamentals of American sovereignty they are in fact in direct opposition to it we do not need to set up a frame work gor government mandated markets if there was a need in the free market it would come into being all on it own instead of being mandated by the government not to mention locking up the land this in no way benefits GDP growth but it does grow the government please go listen to the pod cast on twitter hosted by Alaska Freedom Alliance & wethepeoplealaska.org of you miss the podcast it should be posted to wethepeoplealaska.org the following day

  11. History will record how so many were duped into demonizing carbon dioxide. CO2 makes up .04% of the atmosphere, folks. Really. Ask anyone who thinks if we simply send the govt more money, they will hold back the tide for our benefit, what percentage CO2 is of the atmosphere. They won’t know. They don’t care.
    Thank God for higher CO2 levels in the past when the earth was so green, we now have coal….in the Arctic! Different green deal, of course. We are growing more food than ever because CO2 levels HAVE RISEN by .01% in the last century. Sea levels? Not so much. But still, send in your money so you can be saved.
    Now, accept free money to NOT chop down trees under two false pretenses: CO2 sequestering by growing trees, and that CO2 is bad. Neither are true. But we are being trained to demonize it and pay for it.
    History will not be kind looking back on such foolishness.

  12. We accept the carbon scenario as if it’s gospel, which it’s not. Some scientists well versed in climate issues believe that our atmospheric CO2 levels are at historic lows and to optimize plant growth (food source) we need significant higher levels.
    The whole climate thing makes the COVID mandates and control pale in comparison.

  13. This is a lot simpler than it has been made to be here. If the Feds will not allow you to cut your timber, mine your resources, or drill your oil, then the only thing left to do is to join them and get the money their way. State Government still needs money, the citizens still clamor for services, and the Permanent Fund still needs to be fed. If you can’t lick them, join them. It’s that or go broke. Simple. Until we get a saner world, the ESG folks are the only game in town. Kudos to the Gov for seeing a way to keep the money flowing in spite of the Feds trying to bury Alaska.

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